Federal Relations

July 6, 2011

Budget & Appropriations Update

Latest Budget Talks:  President Obama has summoned lawmakers to the White House Thursday for a fresh round of talks on the budget and debt limit.   While some progress has been made over the holiday weekend, but there is the two sides are still a long way apart if they want to reach agreement before the August 2 deadline for raising the nation’s borrowing limit.  The President supports the idea of increasing revenue to reach a deal and but is opposed to a short-term extension of the nation’s borrowing authority — an idea floated by some Republicans — saying it would only “kick the can down the road.”

Meanwhile, Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), is aiming to influence those talks by releasing a FY12 budget resolution on today. T he long-delayed spending and tax blueprint will aim to trim the deficit by at least $4 trillion over a decade by closing tax loopholes, cutting spending, and reducing interest payments on the debt.  

Appropriations:  The House will resume debate on the FY12 Defense appropriations bill today.  The chamber is expected to focus largely on foreign policy issues rather than Pentagon spending as it considers amendments under an open rule.  Overall, the $530.5 billion bill is $8.9 billion less than President Obama’s budget request and $17 billion (3.3 percent) more than the FY11 enacted level.  The House is expected to focus on amendment debate today, with a passage vote on the usually bipartisan measure on Thursday or Friday.

The FY12 Defense appropriations measure will be the fourth spending bill to pass in the House, where appropriators and GOP leaders have vowed to restore “regular order” to the appropriations process.  The chamber may take up the Energy-Water appropriations measure later in the week.  That bill contains significant cuts and would provide nearly 19 percent less funding than the President requested.

Details on an additional three spending bills are due to be released today.  The FY12 Legislative Branch, Interior-Environment, and Commerce-Justice-Science measures are all expected to be marked up Thursday morning by their respective House subcommittees.  House appropriators have been releasing draft text and summaries of spending bills a day before subcommittee markups in an effort at increased transparency.  The Office of Federal Relations will provide more details on these bills when the drafts are made public.